Lamoine voters prohibit new gravel pits

LAMOINE — After months of debate on the issue, Lamoine residents Tuesday voted to prohibit the permitting of any new gravel pits virtually anywhere in town.

The 450-268 vote comes just days after a family trust — in anticipation of the vote Tuesday — filed suit claiming the restriction on new gravel pits would be a violation of constitutional rights.

The referendum approved by voters Tuesday amends the town’s Building and Land Use Ordinance to prohibit new mineral exploration and sand and gravel pits within the residential and the rural and agricultural zones.

Those two areas cover most of Lamoine’s land mass.

Excluded from the ordinance are gravel pit properties for which owners have already been granted a permit or who applied for a permit before March 13, 2013.

The suit filed in Hancock County Superior Court June 4 was on behalf of the Robert B. Ames Family Trust.

Attorney Edmond Bearor asked that the amended ordinance not be applied to the 20-acre Ames property.

The land is in the rural and agricultural zone in an area dominated by sand and gravel deposits and active commercial gravel pits, he said.

The Ames estate was established in 1987 to benefit Veda Ames, wife of the late Robert Ames, and their heirs.

The land was intended to provide income for the care, support, education, maintenance and welfare of the trust’s beneficiaries, Bearor said.

He said Veda Ames is elderly, resides in a nursing home and the income from the trust is used to support the cost of her nursing home care.

The trust has been attempting to sell the land in order to help pay for Ames’ nursing home expenses.

An engineering report conservatively estimated that the Ames property contains not less than 480,000 cubic yards of sand and gravel deposits with a fair market value of between $215,000 and $240,000.

Bearor said when the land was acquired and later conveyed to the trust that commercial extraction of gravel was a permitted use.

The ordinance, he said, constitutes “an uncompensated regulatory taking in violation of the trust’s constitutional rights.”

Find in-depth coverage of local news in The Ellsworth American. Subscribe digitally or in print.

Jacqueline Weaver

Jacqueline Weaver

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
Jacqueline's beat covers the eastern Hancock County towns of Lamoine through Gouldsboro as well as Steuben in Washington County. She was a reporter for the New York Times, United Press International and Reuters before moving to Maine. She also publicized medical research at Yale School of Medicine and scientific findings at Yale University for nine years.[email protected]
Jacqueline Weaver

Latest posts by Jacqueline Weaver (see all)